Can Motors Help the Fruit Industry ?
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The ex-President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lord Onslow, appointed a committee in December, 1903, to deal with this reference : "To enquire into and report upon the present position of fruit culture in Great Britain, and to consider whether any further measures might with advantage be taken for its promotion and encouragement." Mr. Griffith-Boscawen, M.I'., was appointed chairman of this committee, which met altogether 49 times, and which has now reported. It is worthy of comment that no single witness of the 61 persons examined, and to whom 11,968 questions were put, was called specifically for the purpose of bearing testimony to the value of motor transport as one important measure the extension of which might fairly claim attention at the committee's hands. The official reply furnished to us, in explanation of this apparent neglect of a distinctly useful and promising adjunct to production, was to the effect that the committee already accepted the wellproved fact that commercial motors possessed qualities which rendered them of great value to the fruit industry. It is a matter for regret, so far as the commercial motor business 14 affected, that this view is not embodied in the committee's findings. The tendency to take it for granted that everybody concerned in an industry appreciates all the factors involved is a natural but erroneous attitude of mind. We have it in writing from the secretary of the committee that the members held a certain unanimous view in favour of motor haulage and transport, but the great body of growers are not acquainted with this, owing to the omission from the report of even the few lines necessary to constitute a recommendation ! It is true that Mr. Lobjoit, of Hounslow (a short interview with whom was published in our issue of June 29th), spoke up in support of steam tractors, whilst another witness stated that " so far as the Swariley district is concerned, railway carriage is dispensed with almost entirely, the roads being used, and motor haulage being employed more and more each year." Other similar references are not wanting at various stages of the evidence, yet how many will pry into the closely-printed pages and piece together for themselves
what might have found terse expression in 40 words, at the end of the report, as one of the 40 suggestions? Taking the report as it stands, there is much to show that a big future lies before the home culture of fruit. There has been an extraordinary growth of the taste for fruit on the part of the public during the last to or 12 years, which has been largely stimulated by the greater variety of choice provided through the enterprise of Sir Alfred L. Jones, K.C.M.G., and others interested in the import trade. It appears, too, as though this competition had re-acted upon home producers, for the increase of the area under cultivation for small fruit alone has been 8,155 acres since 1897. Other statistics are incomplete, e.g., no account is taken of oi chards in any holdings of less than an acre in extent, or of fruit trees growing in hedgerows, as in the case of damson trees lining the hedges in certain parts of Cheshire and Flintshire.
Fruit, in fact, promises to compensate the English farmer for the falling away in the acreage under cereals, green crops and hops. It certainly gives every indication, as well, of benefitingthe land-owner, for the same land can stand at least three times the rental that can be secured from any other alternative cultivation, unless of the intensive order, and the progressive state of the fruit industry is now attracting general notice. The committee came to the conclusion that there is plenty of room for home extensions, to which finding they were clearly directed by the views of experienced. buyers like Mr. T. F. Blackwell and Mr. Chivers, and of leading merchants from Covent Garden market. The effect of such extensions will have a beneficial and far-reaching effect upon the basket-making and numerous allied trades, whilst the pursuit of fruit-growing itself brings about a marked intellectual. development in the labourers engaged. 'I. his increasing intelligence is aided, nowadays, rather than repressed, and the growth of co-operative organisations is likely to be the earliest practical outcome. Combination, for purchases and sales, on schemes parallel to those so successfully launched by the Agricultural Organisation Society, is unquestionably one direction of existing activity. We may quote, at random, the Market Gardeners' Association, of Evesham, and the Blairgowrie and Rattray Fruit Growers' Association. Most of the members are growers on a small scale who realise that unity is strength and the essence of progress. In many instances, as where we consider districts subtending main-line stations situated at long distances from large markets, the motor van or wagon can only be employed to serve the industry of fruit culture by rapid collection and delivery to the railway receiving depot, as is now the case at Tollerton (N.E.R.), Stamford Bridge (G.W.R.), and elsewhere. Our chief interest, however, lies in the fact that the self-propelled road vehicle meets so many of the difficulties of rail transit which served as themes for complaint and protest on the part of growers who appeared betore Lord Onslow's committee. Into the question of rates we will not enter here, because it is only a matter of bulking consignments for proportional reductions to be available. It is where the motor can cornpkae the trip to market itself, absorbing all cartages and eliminating all handlings, that the real benefit is obtained.
In such instances, there can be no question that troubles due to the repeated lateness of trains, with consequent losses through missing the markets, the wide prevalence of pilfer
ing, the frequent lack of suitable trucks (i.e., those not fitted with sheet supporters and not adequately ventilated), the delays and leakages over returned empties, and the bad or careless handling of the fruit, will all disappear. How much is such immunity worth to the grower within 40 or so miles of London, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc.? He can buy—either singly or in conjunction with others—efficient commercial motors capable of carryinea2 tons of load, at an average speed of lo miles an hour, Which will cost a maximum of 8d. per vehicle mile to work, inclusive of driver and depreciation. With this effective means of controlling their own traffic ready to hand, we believe that it require, only their attention to be drawn to this important matter for a move to be made. We therefore announce to-day a special issue for August 3151, to deal exhaustively with commercial motors for market gardeners and fruit growers, this being the sixth of our missionary numbers.
The Van Trials.
The French trials of commercial motor:; will begin on Friday of next week : the English tests will foLow e:ght weeks later. The competition across the Channel has received much close attention at the hands of the French Club, notwithstanding the excited controversies over the abandoned Grand Prix for racing cars and the CordonBennett contest, but the English trials have yet to be " boomed " so far as the English Club is concerned, Never before have so great efforts been put forth by the French Club in the cause of commercial motoring as may now be witnessed. It is, in short, more than evident that the country which first secured. a predominant posit:on in the automobile industry of car construction is galled to admit bow much she is behind the country which hods the lead in the realm of the business vehicle. Competition ever was a good incentive, but here we have the spirit of emulation added. Britain was toiling at the problem of goods conveyance during the years when France was evolving her magnificent triumphs for lovers of speed. Then came realisation. French manufacturers put it to themselves that they, too, must enter the lists for a share in this new development of internal transportation, and the decision once taken, as it was at a meeting, of the Chambre Syndicale some eight months ago, no stone has been left unturned to command
The illustration herewith depicts a motor train exhibited al the .German Agricultural Exhibition at Munich by the Neue Automobil-Gesellschaft, Berlin, The train ronsis:s of a tractor and two trailers. The motor is a four-cylinder, developing 24h.p.„ and is fitted with magneto ignition. The • frame. is built up of chrome nickel steel, and the wheels are ,cast steel; bound with homogeneous steel hoops'. Four forward speeds arid a rev(rSe are provided, the maximum speed abeing 12 kilometres, and the minimum 1/ kilometres per success at all costs. No longer did the continental builders rest content with a repetition of the old Poids Lourds programme, which dated back to the year itin7. Satisfactory advertisement, let alone a real commercial Lest, was not to . be obtained by academic trips where the third place of decimals in fuel consumption possibly loomed be:ore the judges as of greatest importance. They would have a tour tnrough a succession of new districts, with exhihifons at various towns, and they would attach more v.ilue to reliala.e raffling than to anything, except the procuring of wide publicity for the contest. Hence the activitywe have seen.
And how successful has the AC. F. been? We are the lirst to admit that its success has exceeded our own anocipations. For months past the French Press, both motor journals and daily papers, has positively reeked of the torthcoming trials. With what judicious selectiot, and with how great a power of compilation, must the Secretary of the Commission des Concours have laboured it) this end? We congratulate him on his possessing a tenacity of purpose worthy the uphill task he has in hand. French makers will do the same, for his efforts have awakened a keen interest throughout France and her colonies. Compare this with the work (sic) of our English club in the C.MItie of commercial motoring ! Why is it that. not one tress cutting hits reached us containing a reference to the trials which are announced for September next? 1,-.1.hy is it that the motor press is not furnished with information is to what i.s being done by way of preparation? This the English Club taken steps to form representative local committees at the numerous towns to be embraced by the itineraries it has proposed, as was the case for the Lanieediire Trials oi 'not and as the French Club has done this year? Liverpool, Widnes, Warrington, Manchester, Belton, Si. Helens, Wigan, Chorley, Blackburn, and Preston C1111111 forward, willingly, with merchants and millowners who gave invaluable local assistance while the last English trials were being organised, and, -hat is more to the po:nt, placed orders at their conclusion_ To-day, in France, Amiens, Dieppe, Le 112.111-e, ROLlell, and other towns have done the same. We hear no whisper of such a course at home. What is the English Club doing? Why does it not adopt at least reasonable measures to acquaint the Press of its progress, assuming, as we fairly new, that sonic has been made? Is it laziness, ignorance or incompetence?
hour. The tractor weighs 4,000 kilogranurieS, and can carry 3,000 kilogrammes, this being also the approximate elfeetive weight for each trailer. Hauling the two loaded trailers, the tractor, itself fully loaded, can climb a gradient of 3 in 40. A drum is fitted to each back wheel of the tractor for the twofold purpose of enabling the engine(after the rear portion has been raised) to drive an agricultural machine, and on slippery surfaces to pull the wagon fOrward by n steel cable passing over the drum and suitably anchored externally.